Lok Sabha Election 2024 in Jammu and Kashmir

SRINAGAR — Former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah is embroiled in a fierce contest in Baramulla, where sharp political slogans and clashes characterize the election atmosphere. With around 17 lakh voters in the constituency, including major areas like Uri, Kupwara, and Handwara, the seat is hotly contested.

In the last election, National Conference’s (NC) Akbar Lone secured this seat. This time, leaving his traditional seat in Srinagar, Omar Abdullah himself is contesting from Baramulla. He faces stiff competition from Sajjad Lone of the People’s Conference and Engineer Rashid. The PDP has also shown its strength, with workers raising slogans supporting their party symbol, the inkpot and pen.

As per the reports received by the news agency KNO, Baramulla is currently a hub of political activity despite the snowy peaks of Gulmarg and the tourist influx in Kashmir valley. The electoral heat is palpable in towns and villages. Omar’s posters at Baramulla intersections prominently feature his party’s plough symbol, reinforcing their presence. Meanwhile, PDP workers chant slogans such as “PDP is our Jamaat, remember the pen” along the route from Gulmarg to Baramulla.

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Abrar Rashid, son of Engineer Rashid and a candidate himself, has mobilized support despite his father’s imprisonment in Tihar Jail for ‘terror funding’. Campaign slogans in Kashmiri emphasize their struggle, urging voters to press the button on their ‘pressure cooker’ symbol to aid Rashid.

Sajjad Gani Lone’s People’s Conference, symbolized by the apple, leverages Baramulla’s renowned apple cultivation to appeal to local voters. His supporters claim this symbol resonates most with the local populace. Congress is aligned with Omar Abdullah, while the BJP is notably absent from the fray, though Omar continues to target them in his speeches.

Local experts suggest Omar Abdullah chose Baramulla to regain NC’s diminishing base. However, Sajjad Lone’s influence in Kupwara and Handwara, combined with youth support for Engineer Rashid, makes this a challenging contest. PDP’s Fayaz Ahmad Mir also adds intrigue to the race.

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Employment remains a key issue among youth voters. Locals need job opportunities beyond tourism. People highlight corruption and the importance of state government elections. Political Pundits meanwhile believe Sajjad Lone will provide tough competition, while others see Engineer Rashid as a strong choice.

In the previous election, NC’s Akbar Lone won by 30,000 votes, with close competition between People’s Conference’s Raja Ejaz Ali and Engineer Rashid. This year, Omar Abdullah’s candidacy as a prominent leader is expected to impact the vote difference. However, some locals express scepticism about big leaders’ post-election engagement.

Despite the BJP’s absence, Omar Abdullah continues to target them in his speeches, accusing them of indirectly supporting Sajjad Lone. This election, marked by intense political activity and strategic alignments, remains one of the most closely watched contests in Jammu and Kashmir.

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